Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Yakuza dream

My Yakuza dream.

Today is November 24, 2009. I just woke up from a nap. I started at about 6:00 pm and woke up about 7 minutes ago at 9:00 pm. I had a dream about the Yakuza. The dream was instigated by hearing Jake Adelstein talk about his book Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. I was listening to a podcast of the interview on National Public Radio's show Fresh Air.

In my dream I was walking along the beach with Japanese friends, and one told the other in Japanese: "remember I was telling you about the perfect beach, this is one of those beaches." I assumed they were talking about a place of solitude and quiet, or for finding oysters for eating. we wer at a place where the surf ended at low tide under a highway overpass. We were among the pillars. I saw something shiny in the low water and sand, and fished out a small badge with the symbol for police on it. It wasnt the size of a real police badge and didnt have the proper weight, it was a replica that you would buy in a store or a security guard might wear. My friends walked ahead and I stuck my hand deeper into the sand and this time pulled out a tag that a dog might wear on a collar with a number written on it, it was the number 1,112 in Japanese.

I remembered that my friend had once gone to another beach at night, we took three cars. They said they were going to dig for oysters and I should stay in the car and not leave. With a glimpse I saw something suspicious, but never thought about it again. From the lead car I could barely make out that they were pulling a large burlap bag out of the back. My friend came over and started to talk to me and my attention was diverted away.

I went back to that beach at night with a flashlight and a metal detector. It took me hours but when I got the signal from the metal detector, I reached down in the wet sand of the surf and again I found the toy police badge. I took my shovel and tried digging deeper to see if I would find a second badge, or find another dog tag. I reached and dug with my hand, deeper till my arm was up to my elbow in muck. I found something with my hand, it was amorphous and I pulled and I tugged. The sand eventually gave way and I fell back onto my ass in the surf. When I looked down I was holding a severed human arm. I let out a scream and someone heard it. Now flashlights were heading my way running. I got up and started to run too, I dropped the hand and ran back to where I parked the car. That's when I realized I no longer had my keys, they had fallen into the sand.

The last part of my dream, where I woke up. I was in my office in Japan putting together the pieces of what I had uncovered. I had found a Yakuza burial ground where they bury the dead and the limbs that are amputed from members that have disgraced the family. And the limbs of people who borrowed money that they cannot pay back.

The police badges were used to get the victim into a state of compliance. They were told the police wanted to question them, they were handcuffed and taken to what appeared to be an ordinary car with the windows with dark glass. How they were killed, I don't know. The tag with the number was to keep track of the victim, the matching one was sent to the family. The police badges were buried in the surf with the bodies.

I then became very paranoid and bought a gun on the back market. Guns are rare in Japan, and I used most of my savings to buy it. As I investigated more I became more and more paranoid. I was in my office alone late at night and heard a noise. Was I just being paranoid again? Again I heard a noise, whispering in Japanese and the sound of my mail slot door opening and closing. I noticed that the basket just under my mail slot had something in it that wasn't there before. I reached in and saw that it was my car keys, and attached to them was a dog tag. As I made the realization a hand reached through the mail slot and grabbed my hand and was pulling it out through the mail slot. I could hear yelling in Japanese and whatever was pulling my hand through the slot was winning. My eyes were level with the slot I was now on my butt and I could see two people outside and the second person was bring a knife to my hand ...

... and that is where I woke up.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gelchion family history and I reconnected with them

As I am reconnecting to the Gelchions through Facebook I am reminded of how I first reconnected the family. I wrote this a few years ago:

Most of the Gelchion information comes from the Saint Paul's Roman Catholic Church marriage and baptismal records, and from Holy Name Cemetery burial records, both these sources have been microfilmed. These two sources have not been fully exploited and a second reading may provide more information. The relationship of the Gelchions to the Carrs and Conboys of Ireland was first made on April 6, 2001 when I interviewed Christopher Aloysius Enright II (1927- ) in his home at 27 Eaglecrest Place, Oakland, New Jersey. He gave me some information on the Conboys and let me make copies of an autograph book that belonged to Margaret Agnes Conboy (1866-1951). The book listed her siblings and had short messages from Ann Hogan and B. Conboy, that were signed "your cousin". He told me that there was a Gelchion woman (I was spelling it phonetically as "Gelchin") that was related to Sarah Jane Carr (1863-1950), my great-grandmother. This Gelchion woman had three children: The first child was Jane Gelchion who married Patrick Cryan and they lived in Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cryans had two children, Tommy and Jane, and Tommy played football. The second child was Kitty Gelchion and she married a Morgan and they moved to Beacon, New York and had lots of kids. The third child was Winifred Gelchion and she was married to Joe Fuerey (or Fuehry). He thought Joe may have died around 1925 and he remembered that she bought a house on Danforth Avenue in Jersey City that she rented to Irish immigrants that were working in the Bayonne refinery. On September 11, 2002, the one year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, I was taking a break from work and tried looking up the Gelchions again using my spelling of "Gelchin", and again nothing turned up. All week I was thinking of how this side of the family was a brick-wall and I should give up. I looked at my notes again, then I searched for every "Winifred" as a first name in Jersey City and then I tried searching for Patrick Cryan in the 1930 census. The census had been online only about a month and the New Jersey portion was online for a week or so. I didn't even know the time frame for him, so it was just out of desperation that I searched in the 1930 census. Only one name came up and it was in Rutherford, New Jersey. When I looked at the census image I was amazed to see "Jane Gelchion, mother-in-law" living in the same house. I searched under the correct spelling of "Gelchion" at ancestry.com and found one entry from Deirdre Robinson and it had Matthew Gelchion marrying Jane E. Hogan at Saint Paul's in Jersey City, the same place where Patrick Norton married Sarah Carr. Jane E. Hogan's father was John Hogan and he had married Winifred Conboy in Ireland. I searched for Gelchion in the online phone book and called "M. Gelchion in Bayonne". She said her father-in-law sent her a genealogy and that the other New Jersey Gelchions were related to her husband. She didn't know any Hogans or any Gelchions in Rutherford. I gave her my number and she called her father in Florida. She called me back in 5 minutes and said her father wanted to talk to me.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Meet Brett Weinbender, my third cousin once removed

Today I said hello to my cousin, Brett Weinbender for the first time on Facebook. I wrote him: "Hey there, I am your third cousin once removed." He wrote back: "Dude ur like 50. You know its actually quite insulting that u would try some bullshit like this on me. Fuck off ........... Prick". His sister wrote me back after I said that he was "rude and ignorant", and she said: "my brother is a teenage boy, I don't expect him to necessarily communicate with someone he doesn't know in a friendly manner." At least she keeps her expectations low for him. That way she will never be disappointed, just pleasantly surprised, when he doesn't pee in the sink when he visits her.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

College Days

My daughter is off to college this month in Washington, DC so I have been thinking about my first day at undergraduate and at graduate school. Undergraduate I went to Montclair, and for orientation in the physics and chemistry labs I met Glen Erdman. He had a dual pouch Frisbee bag with him that had a strap that went over his shoulder. Later that day I was sitting on the floor of the student lounge and Glen saw me. He did multiple somersaults across the length of the lounge until he reached me. We were friends from that moment on.

For graduate school I went to Rutgers, I wasn't sure if I was going to commute or get a room down there. It was my first day, it was getting dark early, and I was at the bookstore on French Street and bought "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". I was alone, I didn't know anyone, but the book made me smile, as I read it in the McDonalds adjacent to the bookstore. The following week I found a room to rent and Robert Lag was my landlord.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Daniel Thomas Norton #2 winner at the 2009 Late Spring Junior Ladder Championship at Nassau Tennis in Hillsborough, New Jersey

2009 Late Spring Junior Ladder Champs at the Nassau Tennis in Hillsborough, New Jersey. From left to right are Zach Anderson #1 Racquet Winner, Seth Miller, the Director, and Dan Norton #2 winner.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Edward Ganley (1919-1987)

Today, May 11, 2009, Kevin Borland found the person previously known as "Eddie Ganlan". He was looking at the census data from 1930 for Eugene Freudenberg (1900-1956) and he noticed there was an Edward Ganley (1919-1987) listed living next to the Freudenbergs and his father was a fruit vendor. The family story from Selma Louise Freudenberg (1921-2009) was that he was "the butcher's son".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Selma Norton (1921-2009)

I just learned today that my mom died on Good Friday of this year. My brother had moved her down to Florida and I didn't find out she had left New Jersey until I went to visit her in the nursing home where she was recovering from a blood clot, and they told me she was not there anymore and that they couldn't tell me where she was since I wasn't her health care proxy anymore.

I learned of her death on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 11:45 when I called Pat Freudenberg to try and find out how to get in touch with my mother. She told me she had died on Good Friday and that she had talked to her before she died and she was very week, Pat Freudenberg said she died of cancer.

My brother had only told my mother's friend June Schmidt from Paramus that she was dead. My brother never called or emailed me. I really have no relationship with my brother, when I was a kid he was in jail, then he moved to Staten Island and was in jail again. Then he moved to Florida. He is nine years older.

She was cremated.

Selma was born on July 17, 1921 and passed away on Friday, April 10, 2009. Selma was last known to be living in Seminole, Florida.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Peter F. Brown (1960-1999)

Peter F. Brown (1960-1999) was a dentist (b. May 29, 1960; Red Bank, Monmouth County, New Jersey - d. May 10, 1999; Heroin overdose in his car at East 9th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York) He went to Fairleigh Dickinson dental school after graduating Rutgers.

I knew Pete when he was an undergraduate at Rutgers in New Brunswick, and I was going to graduate school there. He was a friend of my landlord. He always talked about running, and was always proud of his Scottish heritage. His favorite movies were "Personal Best" and "Chariots of Fire". He did enjoy drinking, and would bring alcohol to his classes in a soda bottle. Once he went to a local sub shop that Rob, the landlord liked and was complaining about how much he preferred another sub shop the whole time he was waiting in line. The guy who took his order and made the sandwich must have gotten tired of hearing Pete complain, so when Pete got home his sub was made of nothing but lettuce and tomato, with no meat. I later heard that Peter got into trouble and had to go to rehab to keep his dental license when a patient complained that he appeared intoxicated during a visit.
Source: Richard Arthur Norton, March 17, 2009

It all started on a Monday about a month ago. Three people, thought to have bought their heroin in the East Village, overdosed in one day. Richard Spadafora, a 42-year-old printer, died on Hudson Street. Matthew Boyd, a 26-year-old who used to hang around in Tompkins Square Park, was pronounced dead at Beth Israel. And Peter Brown, a white dentist from New Jersey, was found dead in his car on East 9th Street. The next day another man overdosed in his room in the Brooklyn YMCA. Less than a week after that, a 23-year-old died on East 9th Street, at the same spot where Boyd overdosed.
Source: Village Voice, June 15, 1999

4 Deaths, 4 Places, One Problem: An Increase in the Use of Heroin
A dentist from New Jersey is found dead in his maroon Oldsmobile on an East Village street. A young drifter dies on the same street in a tenement that he shared with squatters. A pressman dies at the TriBeCa printing company where he worked. And a 35-year-old man is found dead in his room at a Y.M.C.A. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. ... That was painfully evident yesterday in Summit, N.J., where friends, neighbors and patients were trying to grapple with the news that Dr. Peter Brown, 39, whom they knew as a dentist, a long-distance runner and an avid gardener, had apparently died of a heroin overdose. ''If you had a picture of a heroin addict, it just wouldn't be him,'' said James Ralston, the president of a software company with its office in the same building as Dr. Brown's dental practice, on a genteel stretch of road. ... Dr. Brown was found dead in his car at 6:30 A.M. on Monday on Ninth Street between Avenues C and D. Some empty glassine envelopes were beside his body, the police said. An autopsy conducted yesterday was inconclusive, and pathologists are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before they announce the cause of his death, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. ... In Summit, friends said that Dr. Brown had struggled with alcohol but that they had never suspected drug use. ''I can't get over this,'' a friend said. ''I didn't sleep a wink last night.'' Outside a church in Summit where Dr. Brown had attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, people shook their heads. ''Peter tried his hardest,'' said Steve, a patient and friend who in keeping with the group's tradition gave only his first name. ''It hurt me that he couldn't stay sober, and it's sad that he couldn't pass away sober. But his death will make me more diligent about staying sober.''
Source: New York Times; May 12, 1999

Cops were investigating whether a lethal batch of heroin is being sold in Alphabet City after a New Jersey dentist and a lower East Side drifter died of apparent overdoses yesterday hours apart on the same Manhattan block. ... A few hours later, just before 6:30 a.m., police and paramedics were back on the block, between Avenues C and D. Inside a parked Buick Regal was the body of Dr. Peter Brown, 39, of Summit, N.J., and some empty glassine envelopes. Authorities said they believed he snorted his smack.
Source: New York Daily News; March 11, 1999

Profiles like these parallel the life of Dr. Peter Brown, a 39-year-old dentist from Summit, N.J., found dead May 10 in his car on E. Ninth St. on the lower East Side after apparently snorting smack. He was known on the drug scene as a weekend warrior, drugging amid the drifters like the two found dead on the same block that week. They are believed to be two more victims of a lethal batch of heroin copped in Alphabet City.
Source: New York Daily News; May 23, 1999

Dr. Peter F. Brown, son of Frederick G. Brown, nephew of Mary Lou (Brown) Cantrella, husband of Ellen Brown. Pete was a dentist who was well loved by his patients. He was a runner who had won many awards. He is now with his father whom he adored and his older brother, Michael, who died when Peter was only five.
Source: Findagrave

Friday, February 20, 2009

Anna Augusta Kershaw (1841-1931) bank account at the U.S. Freedmen Bank in New York City from March 4, 1872

Anna Augusta Kershaw (1841-1931) bank account at the U.S. Freedmen Bank in New York City from March 4, 1872.

Up until February 19, 2009 I had believed one story that I found on the Internet, that an Abraham Kershaw took his family to California and they all died along the way. I thought this might be my Abraham since he disappeared from the written records after the 1850 census . On February 19, 2009 he was listed as dead on the bank account of Anna Augusta Kershaw (1841-1931) at ancestry.com. His wife was not listed as dead, and Anna's siblings were listed as living in Somerville, New Jersey. It is ironic that moving to New Jersey is the same as being dead in a family history. New Jersey's birth, marriage, and death records aren't in any electronic index, and the birth and death records that used to public and free to search were put behind a pay wall after September 11, 2001 citing National Security. They used to be free, now you have to pay $8 for each search of a record.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dr. Cornell West sighting

I was looking for a parking space at Charles Schwab in Princeton and Dr. Cornell West passed in front of my car. He was crossing from the Charles Schwab side of Nassau Street to the University side and I watched him pass through the University gate. We both looked at the unfortunate man who was getting a parking ticket for his car just as he was coming out of the business he was parked in front of. This was between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The average New Jersey teacher, with 16 years experience, earns $28 an hour, plus benefits, and no vacation pay

The complaints about teachers' salaries aired on your "Local Live" program were infuriating. Do citizens believe they can have a good education for their children on the cheap, or is it purely ignorance that leads people to think teachers earn lots of money? The average New Jersey teacher, with 16 years experience, earns $28 an hour, plus benefits, and no vacation pay. A recent NJEA poll shows this average teacher earns $48,800 a year, working 47 hours a week. Take 185 days, do the arithmetic, and ...
Source: Paul DiZefalo, The Record; Bergen County, New Jersey; December 31, 1996

I am compelled to reply to the recent letter from Paul DiZefalo, titled "Teachers earn their salaries" in which he claims, based upon a recent New Jersey Education Association poll, that the average teacher earns $48,800 a year, working 47 hours a week. According to the salary guide of the Wayne School District, a teacher with only a bachelor's degree and 16 years of service would earn $56,30...
Source: The Record; Bergen County, New Jersey; February 18, 1997

I am filled with irritation when I read comments like those made by Paul DiZefalo in "Teachers earn their salaries" (Your Views, Dec. 31). Although he doesn't say so, I would bet that he is a teacher, or that a member of his family is a teacher. Second, his line of argument is typical of the defenders of monopolies, like the government (public) school system or the Postal Service. This ...
Source: The Record; Bergen County, New Jersey; January 12, 1997

I am writing in response to the recent letter from Paul DiZefalo about teachers' salaries. I agree that some of the teachers earn their salaries, but let's look at the numbers used in the letter. "The average N.J. teacher with 16 years experience earns $28 an hour, plus benefits, and no vacation pay. A recent NJEA poll shows this average teacher earns $48,000 a year working 47 hours a week. Take 185 days, do the arithmetic, and you get $28 per hour." Unlike the teachers, most people earn less than $28 an hour and ...
Source: The Record; Bergen County, New Jersey; January 5, 1997